After the International Criminal Court based in The Hague issued an arrest warrant last week for Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged human rights abuses in Ukraine, Germany announced over the weekend that it will arrest Putin should he ever travel to its territory.
German Justice Minister Marco Bushman made clear that Putin will be arrested if he sets foot on German soil, saying, "I expect that the International Criminal Court in The Hague will swiftly approach Interpol as well as the contracting states and ask them for enforcement."
Meanwhile, the ICC ruling was welcomed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who noted at the time of the ruling that "no one is above the law."
The ICC statement, which was released Friday, said that the Russian president "is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation."
The statement also targeted Maria Alekseyenva Lvova-Belova, who is Russia's commissioner for children's rights. The statement said, "Today, 17 March 2023, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court... issued arrest warrants against two individuals in connection with the situation in Ukraine: Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Ms. Maria Alekseevna Lvova-Belova."
Given that the ICC does not have a police force or any type of enforcement mechanism, the arrest warrants are largely viewed as symbolic. However, sovereign governments can take action on the warrants, which is the case with Germany.
The move does make travel to many European countries that do cooperate with the ICC difficult for Putin now. It could also complicate any peace attempts as it limits the number of European cities that Putin could travel to for negotiations.
Not surprisingly, the Kremlin has condemned the ruling calling the arrest warrants "legally null and void" and has said that it does not recognize the International Court's decisions. The U.S. is also not a signatory to the ICC and does not recognize its authority or decisions.
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